Pedestrian Modernisms – Politics and Poetics of Walking

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Apala Das
contact email: 

Pedestrian Modernisms – Politics and Poetics of Walking

MSA 2020, Brooklyn, USA

Please send 300-350 word abstracts to or by 15th March, 2020. 


Perambulating with his son-in-law in the streets of London, Karl Marx is famously believed to have envisioned the entire first volume of Das Kapital during a walk. Modernist literature is replete with peripatetic characters, such that pedestrianism and the act of walking is often evoked as a metaphor to undo the limitations imposed by modernity. From the figure of the flâneur (a figure that steadily became the modern symbol of alienation) to Clarissa Dalloway’s act of walking through London’s crisscrossing topography, streets have frequently been evoked as sites of meaningful encounter with the human and more-than-human world. Modernist focus on the “pedestrian” signifies a shift both in pace and in form. The aesthetics of walking denote a slowing down in order to sharpen attentiveness. Modernist forms of walking approximate forms of attention, thereby aligning the contingencies of the body’s purposeless movements with radical indeterminacy of aesthetic form. 


However, the burgeoning scholarship on pedestrianism is fractured by its incessant focus on the abled hyper-fit walking body, which excludes certain discourses from coming to the fore. Similarly, this panel also seeks to examine what it might mean to shift focus to the politics of space in narratives of walking: how is the street perceived and attuned to in narratives of walking? How might the street blur boundaries between subject and object in narratives of walking, rendering walking as a participative experience? 


Contexts might include (but are not limited to): 

 1. Walking and the construction of spatial knowledge

 2. Walking and psychogeography 

 3. Pedestrianism and ascetic-hermetic modernisms

4. Ecocriticism and the walking body

 5. The politics of agency/ability of the walking body

6.   Walking and vulnerability, risk, precarity  

7.   Streets as sites of affective links between human and more-than-human environments

8.   Walking through the vectors of gender and class 

 9.   Modernism through the lens of streetwalking 

10. Global migration and pedestrianism of the dispossessed 

Please send 300-350 word abstracts to or by 15th March, 2020.